Book Reviews: Information Security Books and Product Reviews – Internet Searches for Vetting, Investigations and Open-Source Intelligence

Book Title: Internet Searches for Vetting, Investigations and Open-Source Intelligence

Author: Edward J. Appel

Publisher: CRC Press

Date of Publishing: 2011

ISBN(13): 9781439827512

Price (UK&US price – full price, not discounted price): £44.99,  $69.95

URL of Publisher Site:  CRC Press

URL of Amazon UK web page: Internet Searches for Vetting, Investigations, and Open-Source Intelligence

URL of Amazon UK (Kindle) web page: N/A (no ebook version)

URL of Amazon US web page: Internet Searches for Vetting, Investigations, and Open-Source Intelligence

URL of Amazon US (Kindle) web page: N/A (no ebook version)

This book is 320 pages long and is divided into four sections: behaviour and technology, legal and policy context, framework for Internet searching, and Internet search methodology.The author is a retired FBI agent and CEO of iNameCheck, which provides investigation and intelligence services. So, he’s got a lot of real-world knowledge when it comes to investigations and intelligence gathering. This comes across in the pragmatic approach he recommends and the numerous examples he cites, and it gives valuable depth to the book.The book gives a wide range of techniques and resources and emphasises the need to cross-reference and verify information. Although Google is covered, one of the strengths of this book is that it’s not just a guide on how to use Google searches to find what you need. Another strong point is the focus on a framework and methodology for searching and vetting. This includes realistic and practical advice, such as realising that no single technique will get all the information you need, the need to have a balanced view and not focus on negative details to the exclusion of others, and the need to spend the available time in a structured way. The coverage of automation techniques and how these can be used to reduce the time wasted in collating information was also interesting. It’s obvious that automation is a good thing, but in my experience many people still struggle along with the traditional methods and will end up spending more time or doing a less thorough job as a result.The book devotes a lot of space to legal issues, and this is probably a strong point for US readers, but it’s of limited use to UK readers because it mainly covers US law. There’s also a marked absence of UK specific resources such as 192.com and friendsreunited.com. This US-centric approach is understandable given the author’s experience, but I found it reduced the appeal of the book somewhat for me as a UK reader.Another weakness is the time spent discussing the growth of the Internet and how communications have changed in the early chapters. Just about everyone knows about the growth of the Internet, how it’s become ubiquitous and how it’s changed the way we communicate. Cutting some of this out would have made the book more concise without removing any useful content.

This book doesn’t give any “magic bullet” solution to Internet searching, so anyone hoping for a simple recipe to follow will probably be disappointed. But that’s the reality of the vetting process: there really isn’t a magic bullet solution, and although automation can help, there’s currently no getting away from the need to verify, make judgments, and to know when to call it a day

The author has many years experience in the field of investigation and intelligence, and this shows in the professional and pragmatic tone and the numerous examples. The strong points are the emphasis on a framework and methodology, and the focus on the need to verify information and make judgments. The legal sections are from a US perspective, so these may not be as relevant for people in other jurisdictions.

Marks: 3 out of 5
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